Bill Murchison

So, then, what are we supposed to think when the governor of Texas dispatches National Guardsmen to the state border with Mexico in order to deflect the onrush of illegal border-crossers? What are we supposed to do?

Do? A strange concept these days. Do something about the Russians and their depraved allies for shooting down a passenger plane? Do something about the depraved crowd of terrorists who provoked Israel into assaulting the tunnels in which they skulk? Do something about those equally depraved Iraqi terrorists now rounding up and expelling Christians from their midst? Do something about the kidnappers of school children in Nigeria?

Not a chance. As if there were the slightest chance anyway of rebuking and punishing all the world's bad actors -- a constantly growing crowd. Not even the Romans pulled off the trick. On the other hand, outlawry tends to flourish in climates where the outlaws, actual or potential, sense the sheriff to be farthest away, and perhaps to be most conformable to their purposes: Andy Devine in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." In an age of general and deliberate non-judgmentalism, with punishment an oddity and outrage rarely succeeded by action, outlaws flourish.

On the matter of the influx of illegals into Texas, Gov. Rick Perry saw the federal government as flustered and inanimate: unable to proceed because unable to decide (SET ITAL) how (END ITAL) to proceed. The governor said, all right, here's what we'll do. We'll send in the guard. The efficacy of Perry's decision remains to be tested. It's nevertheless a decision, as distinguished from a decision to think about when to think about alternatives, before taking soundings and testing the water.

The cry for a "man on horseback" to carpe the diem, bring clarity, make the rains run on time, get the mail delivered, and so forth is eternal: as we would know if public education taught history with anything like the thoroughness that formerly prevailed in our schools. We get in these what-do-we-do-now moods whenever things begin to go amiss. Equally to the point, whenever problems grow complex and general exhaustion sets in, which may be where we are now, in the twilight of the "hope and change" era.

The border problem is complex. It is not so complex as our political analysts make it out to be: a welter of impulses -- fear of gangs, rapacity of smugglers, ease of transportation, division of a political nature among the potential "hosts," their eyes fixed on the size of the immigrant vote more than on the country's capacity to accommodate all the immigrants who want to come.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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